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Photo: AFP
Hamas' 'popular army' units are prepared to fight Israel
Photo: AFP
Shimon Shiffer
The countdown to the next war has already begun
Op-ed: Without an Israeli initiative, without pursuing an agreement, our leaders' refusal to look reality in the eye is leading us to another violent conflict with disastrous results.
Over the weekend, a missile launched from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol Regional Council without causing any damage. Hamas has announced the creation of "popular army" units which will be prepared to fight Israel.

 

 

Meanwhile, the Egyptian army is still busy digging a canal and defense wall to prevent Palestinians from crossing into Sinai from the Strip.

 

The siege, which led to the war that flooded Israel with missiles and mortar fire this past summer, required the decision makers to hurry up and negotiate with Hamas. The necessary assumption was that after 51 days in which our lives were paralyzed, days in which we suffered human loses and injuries, and after the billions the war cost, a process would begin for an agreement that would prevent the next round.

 

But the lesson was not learned. Nothing happened – neither indirect talks with Hamas nor discussions among the decision makers which would outline a different direction, like a full disengagement from the Strip.

 

Officials in the defense establishment, and mainly around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, explain that Hamas suffered an extremely serious blow and will not dare launch missiles towards destinations in Israel in the foreseeable future. They're wrong.

 

In the past, between one war and another, the decision makers and intelligence directors used to talk about "low probability," and later came up with another overused expression: "Containment." In other words, we can live with the reality taking place around us.

 

And once again, the clear spokesman of this perception is Ya'alon. The conflict with the Palestinians is unsolvable, so we only have to "manage it." Netanyahu, who sees himself as the new "Mr. Security," likes to add "responsibly" and "securely."

 

Gaza Strip. 'Whoever thinks two million Palestinians living in Gaza in disgraceful conditions without an exit to the outside world will accept this reality as their fate - is wrong and misleading'
Gaza Strip. 'Whoever thinks two million Palestinians living in Gaza in disgraceful conditions without an exit to the outside world will accept this reality as their fate - is wrong and misleading'

 

Allow me to disagree with both of them. Without an initiative, without pursuing an agreement, the refusal to look reality in the eye is necessarily leading to another serious, violent conflict with disastrous results.

 

Because whoever thinks that about two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip in disgraceful conditions without an exit to the outside world will accept the reality they wake up to every morning as their fate - is wrong and misleading. The countdown has already begun.

 

I remember the joy and mockery directed by the government's spokespeople during Netanyahu's second term at those who anticipated that at the end of summer 2012, if there would be no real negotiations with the Palestinians, they would launch a third popular uprising.

 

That didn’t happen for various reasons. And do the reasons really matter, when the Netanyahu government never even intended on paying a real price for an agreement with the Palestinians?

 

Meanwhile, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who anticipated a third intifada, has retired from public life. It wasn't the first time his estimates were proven wrong. That doesn’t mean that he wasn't right about the fundamental perception that the status quo between us and the Palestinians would not live forever.

 

Now the intifada is already here. It is taking place in the most explosive area of the Arab-Israeli conflict: In Jerusalem's holy sites and in the area surrounding the capital which is home to 300,000 Palestinians who were annexed under Israeli sovereignty.

 

The basic lesson hidden in the foundation of this conflict has not been written on the board of decisions that need to be made by our leaders: The Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Jerusalem area, and yes – Israel's Arabs as well, cannot be separated from the need to make a decision about them.

 

The "low probability" has turned into a probability of a conflict whose end cannot be estimated. Those who want to make things easier for themselves can continue to believe that this is our fate – to live between one war and another.

 

But many in the world do not share this belief. Look at the declarations made by countries in the international community which are warning that they are about to recognize a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

 

Whether they are right or wrong, it makes no difference. The world around us is creating a reality which will push Israel into dark corners and make it difficult for our future leadership to operate in an atmosphere in which "the world is against us."

 


פרסום ראשון: 11.09.14, 23:38
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